Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is demanding that President Biden halt all deportations of Haitians who cross into Del Rio, Texas, from Mexico, just as the White House begins implementing its plan to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border.
"We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws," Schumer said at a Tuesday hearing on the Department of Homeland Security's policies. "We must allow asylum seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and afforded due process. … Again, the policies that are being enacted now and the horrible treatment of these innocent people who come to the border must stop immediately."
The majority leader also called for the White House to end Title 42, which gives the Centers for Disease Control power to expel all migrants at the border during a pandemic. He said that sending Haitian migrants back to their home country "defies common sense."
Schumer's remarks come as the Biden administration faces a humanitarian crisis on the southern border as more than 10,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, sit under a bridge in Del Rio. Homeland Security has committed to sending 400 Customs and Border Protection to the area to accelerate deportations and resettlements to other parts of the country.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said at a Monday press conference that Haitians without valid asylum claims will be immediately deported. He pushed back against the idea that the U.S. border is completely open.
"I want to make sure that it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States. That is false information," Mayorkas said. "Irregular migration poses a serious security risk to the migrants themselves. Trying to enter the United States illegally is not worth the tragedy, the money, or the effort."
July saw the most migrant encounters in more than two decades, and August saw a 317 percent increase compared with 2020. The record-breaking monthly numbers could translate to two million border crossings by the end of 2021.
While Schumer has called for the end of Title 42, Homeland Security officials who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon have called the policy a lifeline for the Biden administration as it struggles to get a hold on the border crisis. Although Biden carved out broad exemptions for migrant families and children, the ability to deport single men provides some relief for overwhelmed Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents.
A department inspector general's report released this month chastised the Biden administration's handling of the health risks associated with unfettered migration at the southern border. It noted that a lack of stringent COVID-19 testing puts the health of Americans who live in border towns at grave risk. The spread of disease among migrants in detention is compounded, according to the inspector general, by the Biden administration's "erosion of Title 42 authority."